D&D Miniatures Change

Last Saturday I was listening to the monthly D&D podcast, and I learned a few details on a rather important game issue.

Wizards of the Coast has announced that their D&D miniatures line is getting a major revamp.

Due to the rising costs of materials and prototype sculpting, WOTC switched to the use of computer-aided design in the sculpting of their figures, since this would entail less costs in the long run and would allow more flexibility in the planning of each miniature.

However, this switch to CAD from clay was not enough to cover the material cost, and so they have decided to scrap their support for the skirmish game (which the miniatures were originally packaged for) to begin with, as well as a change in the packaging scheme of the figures.

The skirmish game involved randomly-packaged figures and stat cards, and used a ruleset that was separate from the actual D&D roleplaying game. The problem here was that not only was the skirmish game declining in popularity; the product was suffering from an identity crisis since WOTC was trying to satisfy two computer bases and ended up satisfying neither. This was because the development team had to work on both the skirmish stats and the roleplaying stats, which made divided their efforts and spread their time too thin.

Another issue they had to address was the disappointment many players expressed with the randomization of the figures. Most players, their market research team discovered, bought the miniatures for use with the roleplaying game and not the skirmish game. With this in mind, the WOTC knew that the customers preferred more control over the figures they got. WOTC, however, says that the immense cost of single-packaged, non-random figures raises their production cost by a lot, and also ruins their sales—some figures will just go unpurchased since nobody likes them. This keeps them on the shelf longer, which prevents the stores from restocking.

WOTC eventually decided on packaging miniatures in two ways: Player Character packages and Monster Manual packages. The PC packages will contain three high-quality figures with multiple paint steps. Less minis per box means more paint steps each mini. These miniatures will be sorted by 4th Edition Power source (Martial/Divine/Arcane), and each will be of rare quality (hence the multiple paint steps).

The Monster Manual packages will be geared more toward the DM and will contain 5 figures each. There will always be one Large-sized figure, which will be visible through a plastic blister. The rest will be hidden beneath it, hidden in the packaging. This still adds an element of randomness, although at least the large figure will be visible.

I do like the idea of being able to choose whether I want to buy a box of heroes or monsters, and I also like how every Monster package will have a large figure–I didn’t appreciate how many of the boosters I’d bought in the past had no large figures. I hope this new product scheme will be able to produce a more enjoyable product for us and a more profitable one for WOTC.

Big Blue

Speaking of D&D miniatures, I decided to finally pick up the D&D Icons Gargantuan Blue Dragon for sale at Neutral Grounds Trinoma.

Gargantuan Blue 1

When they said it was gargantuan, they sure weren’t kidding. Also pictured are Icingdeath (Gargantuan White Dragon), a Guulvorg (blue creature with silver armor) and a Large Green Dragon.

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While the blue and the white are both Gargantuan, but the blue has a much more massive head, arms, wings, and tail. The white is skinny, but the blue is pretty darn stocky.

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The party faces off with the great blue dragon Al’Lashvahazred. As you can see, he’s pretty darn enormous.

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Head detail.

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The party confronts the enormous blue dragon in his desert lair. (This is the map that the box included.)

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Seriously. Look at that head. It’s like a T-Rex, just with extra frills and a rhino horn. I’m really happy that I actually got this one now. It had been displayed on a more prominent shelf than usual today, so I just knew that someone was going to be tempted to buy it sooner than later. Of course, that someone was me.

I asked the lady at the counter if people had been expressing interest in purchasing the Big Blue, and she said that many did intend to either have it reserved or pick it up in December.

Hah, too late, guys. After all those times you bought the mini boosters ahead of me, now I beat you to the punch. I decided to actually get this limited edition figure because I can sell him if I need too–getting Red Alert 3 instead wouldn’t have been as good an investment.

In any case, I sure look forward to using this in my campaign.

~ by J. R. R. Flores on November 10, 2008.

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